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żurek: classic polish sour rye soup



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Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total: 50 minutes

Servings: 6


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Step 1

Get a cooking pot. Pour in the stock and start heating it up (on a medium heat).

Step 2

Chop bacon and onion into small cubes. Using a frying pan, fry up the bacon first. There is need to add any additional frying fat, bacon will release plenty of its own.

Step 3

Once the bacon fat has rendered, add the onion pieces and continue frying until both ingredients turn golden.

Step 4

Move the contents of the frying pan into the pot with cooking stock. If your ‘zakwas’ starter was fermented without spices (that is: bay leaves, all-spice berries and peppercorns), it’s a good moment to add them directly into the soup. I place them inside a mesh spice bag/stock sachet, so that I don't have to struggle fishing them out later.

Step 5

Peel carrots and parsley roots, drop them whole into the stock.

Step 6

Add white kiełbasa (uncut, whole links) as well and continue cooking for 30-40 minutes, until the stock becomes meaty in aroma and flavour (you’ll have to test that empirically).

Step 7

If you haven’t boiled the eggs already, now is a good moment to do so. Once cooked, allow them to cool down.

Step 8

The next step would be to remove the spices. If you used the spice bag, just take it out. Otherwise, you can fish them out manually with a spoon, or get rid of them using a sieve - and return the soup into the pot.

Step 9

Now it’s time to add rye 'zakwas' starter. Add 1⅓ cup (300ml) of zakwas for a mild Żurek, up to 2 cups (or more; roughly 500ml) for a more sour result. If you’re not sure how much you should add, just pour it over gradually, tasting along the way.There are two ways to do it:• Mix the contents of the jar/bottle, so that the liquid part blends with the floury part,• Or start by adding the liquid only, topping with the muddy floury part later on - spoonful by spoonful, until you reach the desired thickness. That’s how I do it.

Step 10

Add 1 tablespoon of dried marjoram and one garlic clove (crushed or roughly chopped), cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Step 11

Remove the pot from heat. Remove the sausage and vegetables with a slotted spoon, slice them all and return to the pot. You can also leave the sausage unsliced - that’s up to you.

Step 12

Adding cream is optional, but it balances the flavours very nicely. Place 3 tablespoons of whipping cream into a cup or a small bowl. Add in a tablespoon of Żurek, mix well with a fork. And another spoonful of soup and mix again. Repeat with 2 more tablespoons of Żurek. Pour the mixture into the pot.

Step 13

Have a taste. Does it need any more salt or a pinch of pepper? If so, add some to taste. Garnish with fresh marjoram or chopped parsley and serve with boiled egg halves.

Step 14


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